Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going Postal - Two Cent Panic!!

New postal rates went into effect Monday, May 14. In the first four hours that we were open, we sold 16,000 two-cent stamps! So much work for so little money, if the truth be told.

And, of course, all the rates went up. So everyone was cranky. All day.

Late in the day, there were about six people in line. And a car at the drive-thru. I took care of one customer, then opened the door at the drive-thru and said "Can I help you?". Drive-thru diva person was yakking on her cell phone. I waited a second or two for her to acknowledge that I was there. Then when I got no response, I went back inside the door and waited on the next person in line. The one who wasn't yakking on her phone and deserved my attention. Drive-thru diva had a fit. Oh well, lady. Cell phones are the absolute bane of our existence. We are not going to hold up everyone in line until you finish your conversation!

Another DTD (drive-thru diva) wanted to exchange her 39 cent stamps for 41 cent stamps. Sorry, ma'am, I can sell you two-cent stamps, but we don't exchange. She wasn't happy. I tried to explain to her that in ten years, those stamps will still be worth 39 cents and all she has to do is add additional postage for a first class letter. There is no expiration date on stamps! She said she was going to go the 'real' post office to exchange them. I'm sure that after she waited 1/2 hour in their line, only to be told the same thing, that she was even more miserable. Serves her right.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Going Postal - The Drive-thru Divas

We have a unique feature - the drive-through post office! It's meant to be a convenience, but as usual, there are people who abuse it.

Mailing a package? Before you come to the drive-thru, it helps if the item you are mailing is already packaged. I've had people drive up with stuff in a plastic bag and they want me to get them a box or an envelope. That's not a problem if they want to use USPS Priority mail because we keep those behind the counter. We also have shipping supplies (envelopes, boxes, tape) that we sell out in the store area.

Some people get testy if I ask them if they are going to use priority mail. Believe me, I'm NOT trying to rip you off. For a small package, there might be $1 difference betweeen priority and parcel post (the cheapest mail service). The priority box is free...... but if you want to use parcel post, you'll have to provide your own box. And if you show up in the drive-thru without a box, you'll have to buy one from us. So you are going to spend $1.29 or $1.99 just to buy the box, and then pay postage to ship it parcel post, instead of using the free priority box and spending an extra $1 on postage. Not to mention, your package gets delivered faster. In most cases, it will be cheaper to mail it priority with the free box.

If you want me to go out into the store and get you an envelope while you tie up the line in the drive-thru, and then wait while you address it and finish your transaction, I'm not going to pick out the 21 cent manila envelope for you. You're going to get the 99 cent bubble envelope. If you want the cheapest, park your car, come into the store and pick out your own envelope. Got that? Okay.

Drive-thru diva of the week was the hot mama in the back seat of the Ford F150 extended cab pickup. Blonde and slow daughter was driving. Mama holds up a little makeup bag/purse and says she wants to mail this to Dallas. I get her a priority envelope and mailing label. She looks at me and says "I am illiterate. Can you please fill out the label for me?"

I grab my clipboard, standing next to her truck, while she is applying mascara...... she then proceeds to spell the name of the person to whom she is mailing the package, AND the name of the street. Why do I feel like a sucker here?

Dumb blonde daughter in the front seat is filling out an envelope to be mailed. I ring up mama's package, take her money, and expect them to drive off. But dumb blonde daugher isn't ready yet. Now there are about four more cars behind them.

Finally blondie's ready and I take the letter she wants to mail. Total transaction time, about 15 minutes.


Going Postal

I work in a US Postal Service "Contract Unit". What is a contract unit? It is an 'official' US Postal Service site, but operated under a private contract with non-federal employees. The USPS has basically outsourced an operation in an area that needs a post office, but without the capital investment of building one or hiring federal employees. Very cost effective, don't ya think? The CPU (Control Postal Unit) isn't our only business, but it definitely takes up most of our time!

We provide all postal services except we do not sell postal money orders, have PO boxes, issue passport applications or issue the 'sooper sekrit secure' registered mail. And, unlike private mail services, we do not charge more for your postage. You pay nothing extra for mailing a letter or package. And we smile and provide great customer service. Oh, and we also have a drive through window! What could be better?

I really do love the work. Almost all of our customers are great. And we have a decent amount of 'regular' customers, too.

I would just like to say one thing. Your mail is handled with extreme care at our facility. We go above and beyond the call of duty. What happens after it is picked up and shipped to the postal distribution center? I cannot vouch for that!

A couple of things that drive me nuts - people who bring in something and ask "Will this be there tomorrow? (or the next day)"
Not unless you send it Express mail, which is our most expensive option. "But it's only ten miles away!!" Well, if it's only ten miles away, maybe you should deliver it yourself, okay? Distance doesn't matter really, because it still gets put into the mailstream with thousands of other pieces of mail and is sorted for delivery. Yeah, it might get there tomorrow. Or it might not get there until next week. Sorrrrry.

Another thing that makes me crazy is that some people have not learned how to address an envelope/box. Return address? Upper left hand corner, please. Recipient address? Large and center (vertically and horizontally) on the package/envelope. Remember to leave room for the postage, please!! And if the to/from addresses are directly on top of each other, don't be surprised if your package comes back to you as the recipient instead of the sender!

And it's not our fault that the price of postage is going up! We're sorry!

There are a few nits, but lots of fun things about working in our CPU. More stories about that later!